When Living is not Living
“As soon as there is life there is danger.”
The robot’s green eyes stared right at her, no, not right at her, right through her. Kassie stared straight back, saying nothing, thinking nothing. They had been like this for hours. Kassie had barely noticed. She had forgotten why she was staring at her father like this. How long had Kassie been standing there? The robot’s eyes flashed in a sort of automatic blink. Kassie blinked back. A ping came from the robot’s speaker. Kassie’s father turned around and rolled down the hall. He disappeared around the corner.
Kassie stood in the the hallway waiting for the nothing that would never come. Or possibly, the nothing was already there. Maybe the nothing was all Kassie’s life was. Maybe everything that ever existed was nothing at all. Everything that ever mattered to her (Which was nothing of much importance) was blanketed in nothing.
She moved her foot forward one inch, two inches, three, down. Kassie stared at her heavy feet as they shuffled. For some reason unbeknownst to her, it seemed like they were not her feet. Somehow the feet seemed to have detached themselves from her feet and found another person to carry around. She took another step and watched as the padded floor rose around her white shoes. Another step. Her hand touched the padded wall. Kassie looked up at the fake sunlight pouring from the fake windows. For a second she wondered what actual sunlight felt like. She froze. Why had she thought that? Sunlight was dangerous, the government said so. She could be thrown in jail for at least a month for just thinking about sunlight. Kassie held her breath. She waited for alarms to sound. None went off. Within seconds, the thought was forgotten and Kassie was left wondering what she was doing standing in the middle of the hallway.
Her mother came around the curved corner carrying the portable IV in her padded robot hands. Her usual monotone voice came on. “Time for lunch, Kassie.”
Kassie’s feet moved again and she was walking out of the hall and into the dinning area. She sat on the white padded floor and took the padded white IV from her mom. Kassie lifted her white shirt a couple of inches revealing pale white skin that had healed around a closed tube. Kassie took the tube from the IV and locked it into the tube that disappeared inside her. Kassie touched the start button lightly. A clear fluid filled the tubes and vanished inside of her. Three minutes later lunch was done. Kassie relaxed a bit. She had heard that lunch, breakfast, and dinner were the most dangerous parts of the day. Mom had told her that the government was working on making IVs safer. Kassie carefully unhooked the IV and stood. The robot bent over and picked up the IV. Kassie watched. Something shiny and pointed stuck out of the robot’s back.
“Mom, can you stop?” Kassie moved closer and the robot froze. It was an odd object. She had never seen anything like it in real life. Maybe she had seen something like it in the dangerous listings. What was it called again? ...Metal. That’s it. Metal. Kassie reached out and hesitated. This was wrong. She should not touch it. She should call the police and turn Mom in. Mom was dangerous. It would be the right thing to do, wouldn’t it? Kassie looked down at her mom. But, it was her mom. Would Dad notice if Mom left? Kassie looked at the metal sticking out of her mom’s back. She stared and turned her head to watch the fake light reflect off of the tip. The thing was so beautiful. Kassie’s hand shook as she moved closer. Her fingertips were inches away from the tip. Touching it once could not do any harm, could it? Even closer still. Perhaps everyone was wrong. How could something so beautiful be so dangerous?
Kassie poked the metal. She screamed.
Mom jerked up as Kassie snatched her hand back. Alarms blared through the house. Doors locked and the light flared. Kassie stared at her finger. It was throbbing slightly. A dot of red sat on the tip of her finger. She stared at the droplet and watched it fall to the ground. The padded floor soaked up the red and it spread through the fibers. Another droplet formed on her fingers. For a moment she stared at the droplet. Kassie hesitated then touched her finger to her lips. She licked the red dot. Something funny happened to her mouth. Her spit seemed to change and be different. She spit on the ground trying to make the funny spit go away. Mom stared at her. Her blue robot eyes blinked simultaneously.
The padded door swung open. Three men and a woman walked in wearing helmets and thick suits. The three men walked straight over to Mom and opened the control panel. One of the men punched in a code. Mom followed them out the door. Kassie looked away from Mom and the men. The woman was standing by her, waiting with a large medical kit. Kassie held out her finger for the woman. The woman bent over and opened her medical kit. She took Kassie’s finger and wiped away the red. The wipe dissolved in the woman’s hand. The woman brushed the remains away and the floor cleaned up for her. Kassie watched silently as the woman took out a lighted wand. The woman pressed the wand against Kassie’s finger. When the wand was removed, there was nothing to prove that the red had leaked from Kassie’s body.
The woman smiled and put her equipment away. “Now go lay in bed. By morning you will have forgotten everything terrible that has happened today.”
“The unexamined life is not worth living.”